By Andy Ross
Killeen Daily Herald

Earth Day will be celebrated in a unique way Friday at Central Texas College, where an official groundbreaking is set to take place for the college’s Green Umbrella Project.

The project, which was tentatively announced earlier this year, is being touted as “faculty-led, student-centered,” and involves the construction of an 800-square-foot building using sustainable designs and materials.

Mark Winans, chair of CTC’s Electronics Department, is spearheading the project and said this week in a news release that the building will essentially be an apartment.

“The building will contain everything needed for a person to live in-such as running water, living room, a working bathroom facility and other amenities for a comfortable living space,” Winans said. “Who knows, when it is finally built we may open it up for a student to live and journal the ‘green’ experience.”

Student projects that will be incorporated into the structure include a solar hot water system, solar panels and “Smart Grid/Smart Home” systems.

Winans said he initiated the Green Umbrella Project in an effort to better prepare students for the future growth of renewable energy technology. Another longterm goal is to open up the completed facility for public tours and education projects.

CTC students from the electronics, building trades, business and agriculture/horticulture programs are expected to collaborate on the design process.

“The goal is to expose students to how renewable energy goals impact the architecture, construction and landscaping phases,” Winans said. “Using alternative forms of energy is becoming more the norm today. It is important for our students to explore these capabilities as they prepare to enter the working world.”

The groundbreaking is open to the public at 9 a.m. on a plot of land across from the Mayborn Planetarium and Space Center.